Intentional Choices in Association Decision Making
Intentional choices can be hard in the best of times. What’s a necessary choice as opposed to one that would be nice to make? How do we choose between things that are all necessary when we can’t have them all? How can we be confident about the decisions we make? How can we explain our choices to other people? These things are infinitely harder in the face of fear and uncertainty.
I spoke with Rich Harwood, a Public Innovator and Founder of the Harwood Institute. It is the go-to place for people and organizations looking to fight against the conditions stifling societal progress. They coach people from all walks of life on moving society forward by building stronger communities, bridging divides, and creating a culture of shared responsibility.
Rich shared three fundamental things we must do to make better choices in association decision-making.
The First is Basic: Breathe
When we get scared, we literally, physically, stop breathing. We have to remind ourselves to breathe because it calms us. It centers and grounds us and helps us manage the anxiety we feel.
Sometimes, we have to stop to get started. Slowing down and taking a breath will allow you the clarity you need to orient your organization to its new surroundings. The old ways of operating may not fit in this new context. To figure this out, you first have to take a step back and assess the situation.
The Second: Become More Wakeful
We have to open our eyes and become more attuned to our surroundings. Leaning into discomfort instead of leaning away from it. Like children that hide under the covers from monsters, we have to pull the covers back and look around. We make good choices when we turn outward, but when faced with the pressure, we instinctively hunker down and turn inward.
Catalyzing change begins with broadly recognizing our position within our organizations and communities. Where do we sit in relation to those around us? How have our working relationships changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic? How have your organization’s shared values and goals changed along with this?
After reflecting on this, you’ll probably be surprised to find that while the way we relate to one another is different after the pandemic, the values guiding you as an organization are not. So, despite how much things appear to have changed, you can still unearth this common ground to unite upon. From there, small steps towards catalytic change emerge.
Orienting yourself to your new surroundings and setting smaller goals in support of your shared mission can unleash a series of chain reactions, catapulting your organization towards a more connected and defined future.
Finally: Be More Intentional
This means making discernments. Which is to say, we need to make thoughtful judgments about our priorities and possibilities. The more discernments we can make, the more explicit our choices become. As a result, we become more confident that we are taking our best shot.
Telling someone to be more confident is like telling someone in a panic to calm down. It only makes them panic more. So we can say that the first step to growing your confidence is becoming more intentional and making better discernments.
You can’t accomplish anything while trying to accomplish everything. Discerning the capabilities, you possess at this moment and being intentional about the benchmarks you are working towards in response to that will allow you to focus your energy where it will be best served.
To learn more about better association decision-making, watch my interview with Rich Harwood here:
To read more about decision-making in associations, see Nonprofit Strategy: 3 Signs Your NonprofitNeeds to Start Stopping.